Vietnam is a safe country for foreign tourists. However, scam scenarios can interrupt your fun because some people use clever tricks for bad purposes.
There are hundreds of ways to make you fall into scams in Vietnam without realizing until the results are in. That’s why we compiled all the common scenarios and how to avoid the scams in Vietnam.
Tourist Scams In Vietnam & The Solutions
1. Motorbike Rental At Cheap Price
Vietnam motorbike tours are a great idea to get closer to unspoiled nature. Most rental companies are often flexible and consistent in customer service and pricing, but travelers may encounter baddies.
You might see friendly locals approach you, share some stories, and then offer motorcycle rental at a surprisingly reasonable price. The problem is their vehicle is not reliable. You have a technical problem afterward, and the dealer demands a large repair fee.
Hence, always do some research on the Internet before placing a deposit. A trusted partner usually publishes a Facebook site with lots of engagement and reviews from travelers. It would help to connect with fellow travelers to inquire about their rental experiences.
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2. Fruit Vendors At Attractions
In busy tourist places, you will come across many innocent women wearing traditional clothes and carrying bamboo baskets. When the two of you make eye contact, they invite you for a free treat and ask whether you want to take pictures with their conical hats or shopping carts, etc.).
You’re likely to drop your guard in front of such a rustic manner and fantasize about the skyrocketing number of likes on social networking sites. Unfortunately, reality knocks you out of the clouds.
You are forced to buy their goods at a higher price than the local market. Those vendors also claim a “rental fee” after you have taken the photo. Say no at the outset, and you are left in peace.
3. Fake Motorbike Taxi Drivers
Official ride-hailing apps are not new to tourists in big cities, but the enthusiastic suggestion of a random motorbike taxi driver moves some navies. You’ll have a comfortable ride and interesting stories if you’re lucky. On the flip hand, rogue drivers drop you off at a dark alley and demand extra money to continue your journey.
To avoid trouble, use official services like Grab, Gojek, or Be, which show you the price and route from the get-go. If these options are unavailable in your area, negotiate with the riders in advance and turn on the GPS to track the taxi/bike ride.
4. Longer Taxi Route Than Expected
The driver extends the trip even if the destination is not far from the starting point. They make excuses for traffic jams or constructions blocking the way and then charge a crazy fare at the drop-off.
Once again, ride-hailing apps come to the rescue. It guarantees the price before you get in the car and even offers promotions. Otherwise, check the fastest route and show it once the driver intentionally misdirects.
Never start a trip without the meter on. If he refuses to follow your guide, stop and pay the amount as counted.
5. Fake Travel Agents
The booming tourist market in Vietnam has caused travel agencies to mushroom. However, some are just fake versions of a reputable company.
For instance, we had an amazing experience with the Sinh Tourist agent and recommended it to our friends. However, they felt confused when there were hundreds of copycats like Sinh Cafe Tours or Sinh Cafe Travel.
This situation also happens with hotels, restaurants, or any other travel service business. You’d better use reliable booking platforms like Klook, Agoda, Booking, Tripadvisor etc. Also, find review sites to gather a list of trustworthy places.
6. Peanut Bowls And Wet Paper Towels At Drinking Parties
We are unsure if it is a scam or a bizarre insight, but you should know. In Vietnamese beer culture, shops serve you delicious food and beverages on request, along with a plate of peanuts. Most foreign guests think it’s free, but the opposite. Some eateries inflate the price when their diners have finished the snack.
If you have a question about a particular dish, feel free to ask for its value. When you find an unbalanced payoff, say no in a friendly way.
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Not only that, but we also visited many restaurants and pubs that placed a lot of wet paper towels on their tables as if they were freebies. But it turned out that those towels added up to our bill a lot, so you should be clear with the restaurant about this matter first and ask for tissues – which are free most of the time.
7. Motorbike Thefts & Pickpockets
Petty robberies are very common in busy streets or crowded tourist areas. Thieves often act quickly or distract you from your belongings. Always be careful with your possessions, such as motorbikes, wallets, and mobile phones.
Investing in a sturdy padlock and parking your motorcycle in a safe place is the only way to protect your “horse.”
It would be best to have an anti-theft backpack to store valuables and carry them on the front on public transport or in secluded places. Last but not least, equip yourself with travel insurance that covers property loss.
8. Fraud Hotel Pictures and Reviews
Even if you book accommodation on official sites, you are still fooled by fake marketing materials. The host publishes photos and videos demonstrating their outstanding amenities, but they are not always the truth.
Avoid options with low booking platform ratings. Reviews tell you what problems happened to other travelers and then to you. We also do not recommend paying in advance unless you know about amenities and customer service. If unsatisfied, you can check the room on arrival and decline (or pay a small fee for cancellation).
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9. Inflated Price At Local Market
From our point of view, the higher cost for foreign visitors is not a scam but an unfriendly business strategy in some markets or food stalls. These locations often do not publish a price list but charge customers based on their understanding of local costs.
If your destination does not have a menu, do not hesitate to ask for actual prices in advance. Nothing can stop you from bargaining – indeed, it is an interesting cultural value of the Vietnamese people.
10. Child Street Vendors
When kids in rags approach you, it is hard to refuse them. However, the money you give never fills their pockets. There are many dark stories behind street kids since juvenile labor is tied to low-income family economics or an illegal business.
More awkwardly, they pull in other friends and follow you around for donations. The best thing you can do is contribute to child protection organizations in Vietnam or treat street children to a delicious meal.
11. Used SIM Card For New
A phone number is required to log into Vietnam travel guide apps and use mobile data. Shopping for a SIM card does not require personal information, and service shops are spread nationwide.
The question is: is it legal? It is not straightforward to answer since scammers blend in with unofficial resellers. You may pay for a data package, but it is only a few days of usage. To be sure, you should go straight to telecom companies or licensed stores. You should know that deals only kick in after you leave these locations.
12. Expensive Cyclo Ride
The cyclo is a three-wheeled vehicle with a seat in the front. You come across cyclo drivers frequently in the old quarters of Hanoi or Hoi An to keep tourists from walking around.
It is a red flag when the driver offers you a ride for free or for an amount you decide. Similar to what happens with fake taxis, black sheep take you to a deserted place and ask for a crazy price.
The tip here is to look for official cyclo service. For example, when we were in Hue in 2022, we noticed a group of purple cyclos with the company name and phone number printed on the vehicle. The drivers were also wearing uniforms and looked professional. They usually gathered at Truong Tien Bridge or Hue Citadel.
It is still a general rule to stay safe before a cyclo scam – negotiate before you take a seat. Go into detail about travel time and route. The average one-hour drive usually costs about 200,000 – 250,000 VND ($8-10 and the tip is up to you.
13. Entrance Tickets At Free Tourist Spots
You may lose money at popular attractions if you forget to research. Scammers stand at the entrance to charge for tickets or offer to buy with promotions only available to locals. Never buy a word from them! You will pay more than the actual price, or there is no entry cost.
Go to the official counter, pay, and receive your tickets in person. If you do not want to waste time waiting in line, head to the booking platforms and pay for one online.
14. Rigged Gas Stations
Some gas stations in Vietnam, especially in rural areas, install microchips that distort the figure displayed on the meter. More commonly, the staff “forget” to reset the meter after the previous service, which leads to the wrong number of filled gas.
Vietnamese government agencies have taken strong measures to prevent these scams, but always be vigilant. Keep your eye on the meter to make sure it jumps from zero before refueling. You should also make specific requests, for example, “50,000 VND for fuel” instead of “fill up the tank.”
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15. Bill Switcheroo
It is not difficult to distinguish between Vietnam’s official currencies by their distinctive color, except for the 500,000 VND and 20,000 VND bills. These two sheets are blue with only slight gradations but huge differences in payout value.
When you give more than one 500,000 VND banknote for a valuable item, the sellers may swap one for another 20,000 and report that you made a mistake. You trust them and take out another great-value bill.
You may also mistake two banknotes and withdraw 500,000 VND from your wallet. Unfortunately, the seller probably won’t give you the change.
Pay by credit card or else prepare changes for common purchases. As an extra precaution, count each banknote and say the value aloud as you pass it on to the seller.
You don’t always fall for scams in Vietnam, but it’s necessary to prepare for the worst. The information above will help you to stay alert to common tricks and have a good trip in this beautiful country. However, do not let excessive suspicion ruin your trip. You need a little attention to be on the safe side.
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